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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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378                          LIFE OF
sary, which was as constant  in  the field  as at the
conference.
The other adventure was less serious.     The painter
Isabey came to Vienna to commemorate the remark-
able assembly by a painting.     On the one half of the
picture the  crowned heads were assembled ; on the
other the diplomatic chiefs were  sitting round  the
table at which the fate of Europe was decided.   Each
figure was a portrait;   the artist chose the moment
when Metternich introduces the Duke of Wellington,
But one circumstance nearly frustrated the artist's in-
tention.    All the European representatives of import-
ance were to figure on this picture., and among them
Humboldt could not be wanting1.    But now Isabey
was informed that here he would meet with opposi-
tion, as it was well-known how averse this statesman
was to let himself be painted^    He had refused it to
the Princess Louise Hadziwil3 sister of Prince Ferdi-
nand of Prussia.    Isabey therefore went to Humboldt
with very little hope.    His embarrassment,  real or
feigned, increased the humour,, now become prover-
bial, of the Prussian statesman, who, fixing his promi-
nent large blue eyes upon him, replied thus :   " Look
at me, and confess that nature has endowed me with
a too ugly face than that you could disapprove of my
resolution never to spend a sow for my portrait.    Say
yourself, would not nature laugh at my expense, if she
perceived siich, egregious folly in me ?   "No ; she shall
see tittat I can appreciate the ill-favour she has be-
stowed upon me/*    The   painter.,   surprised   at   this
declaration,  now gazed in astonishment at the irre-
gular  features of the  minister;   he,  however, soon
collected himself, and replied that it was not his in-
tention to take any reward from his excellency for
ihe agreeable task which he wished to undertake ; he
only came "to a&k from him. the favour to sit for Mm
&, few hours.     " If that is all/' replied  Humboldt*
^m&i the greatest pleasure I will sit as often as you
, do not make any ceremonies.    I can only not
* wp my principle, not t go to the toast expense